ICAO’s Salazar Calls For More Harmonization Of Maintenance Approvals

airplane inspection
Credit: Depositphotos / Gorodenkoff

WASHINGTON—Aviation safety regulators should prioritize harmonization of maintenance organization approvals to cut down on duplicative transborder audits and similar unnecessary requirements, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Secretary General Juan Carlos Salazar said. 

“Aircraft maintenance is still not considered exportable, and so states are required to apply their own approval requirements,” Salazar told an audience of global regulators at the FAA/EASA International Aviation Safety Conference June 14.  

“A consequence of this framework is that [approved maintenance organizations (AMOs)] performing maintenance on an international basis now face a multitude of procedures, manuals, quality assurance systems, and personnel requirements,” Salazar said. “They’re further confronted by the obligation to undergo multiple inspections from the various States whose operators make use of their services.” 

Rather than reducing risk—which should be the regulators’ primary goal—the approach in most cases adds burden for both suppliers and operators that have less choice on where they can have maintenance performed. 

“Not only is this practice inefficient, and a significant burden to both airlines and AMOs, but it also falls short of establishing a stable platform for the standardization of maintenance practices,” Salazar said. 

So-called “mutual acceptance” agreements between states have helped advance harmonization in some regions. Examples include the U.S.-European Union aviation safety bilateral, which paved the way for some 2,000 repair stations on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean to have certificates from the FAA and EASA and undergo streamlined approval and re-approval processes. A Latin American effort has linked a dozen countries together, eliminating the need for individual repair station certifications. 

Salazar called on regulators to pursue even broader agreements. 

“ICAO has developed a series of standards and guidance materials to promote the uniformity of AMO regulatory requirement,” he said, pointing to “model regulations” packs as an example. 

“We hope that these will reduce the economic burden imposed on the industry by unnecessary certification and surveillance activities, and sincerely hope that you can embrace them,” he added. 

Sean Broderick

Senior Air Transport & Safety Editor Sean Broderick covers aviation safety, MRO, and the airline business from Aviation Week Network's Washington, D.C. office.